Who do you trust to spend your money: You, or the government?
Unfortunately for Coloradans, that’s not a rhetorical question. At issue is the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights — and it’s currently under assault.
Enacted by voters in 1992, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is a state constitutional amendment that protects Colorado taxpayers against the runaway spending that is threatening state budgets across the country and has driven many local governments into bankruptcy. It has two central components. First, voters may reject any proposed state tax increase, as they have by huge margins twice in recent years. Second, the state must issue tax refunds when total revenues for any given year outpace inflation and population growth.
That second component is now being threatened. 2015 is projected to be the first year since the 2008-09 recession that taxpayers are likely to be eligible for a refund — a refund of roughly $116 million. The principle supporting this refund is simple: Once government has sufficient funds to cover current operations and nominal growth, any excess revenues should be returned to the people who earned it and paid it in the first place: State taxpayers like you and me.
But a growing number of state politicians and pundits disagree. They argue the limits imposed by the Bill of Rights prevent the government from spending that money on important items. As a result, the argument goes, the state should keep the $116 million to spend on key infrastructure projects and K-12 education, which ostensibly are experiencing budget shortfalls. Continue reading
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Grand Junction City Council is looking into completing the Westside Beltway project several years later, but TABOR funds are needed in order to finish the project.
The citizens of Grand Junction voted for the city to continue holding tabor override taxes to pay off the debt of Riverside Parkway early. However the city is looking to now continue the Westside Beltway project, making 22 and 25 road more traffic friendly.
It would improve 25 Road from I-70B, along F1/2 Road and 24 Road to I-70. The timing and funding of this project is one of the reasons they are now putting it on the ballot.
“If voters decide they want us to do this, we will be finishing this project at the same time the previous project would be paid off. So both projects would be paid off at the same time,” said Phyllis Norris, the Mayor of Grand Junction.
This project is an attempt to relieve some of the traffic from Patterson Road, as well as provide a easy route to the interstate from Riverside Parkway.
There are millions of taxpayers’ dollars set aside for the project, slated to start in 2017 if the measure is passed. However more funds are needed, to the tune of $12.5 million dollars, which is why the ballot measure will be asking citizens to use additional funds from TABOR.
The TABOR Foundation has filed a lawsuit against the Regional Transportation District and the Science and Cultural Facilities District for their violations of TABOR. The first court appearance will be on Monday, February 2 at 2:30 in courtroom 424 in the City and County Building (1437 Bannock St, Denver, 80202). It would be a great show of support to have friends of TABOR present for at least part of the proceedings. If anyone is able to attend, it would be good to know that ahead of the hearing on Monday.
(To refresh your memory, this is what the lawsuit is about)
TABOR group sues 2 special districts — RTD, SCFD — over new tax
By Monte Whaley
The Denver Post
The nonprofit TABOR Foundation is suing to stop the Regional Transportation District and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District from collecting sales tax on food, beverages, cigarettes, advertising materials and food containers.
The foundation filed a request for preliminary injunction Thursday in Jefferson County District Court, asking that the districts be blocked from collecting the tax starting Jan. 1, as allowed by a new state law.
House Bill 1272 lifted exemptions on items the districts could tax. Previously, sales of food, beverages, cigarettes, advertising materials and food containers were off limits to RTD and SCFD.
The tax is expected to net $2.7 million for RTD and $270,000 for SCFD next year, according to the complaint. Continue reading
As the Colorado 2015 Legislative Session moves into full-swing, Morgan County stakeholders will begin discussions with representatives.
Stakeholders started those discussions Monday with the first Legislative Coffee event. Representatives from area businesses, Morgan County Economic Development Corporation, Morgan Community College, Brush Chamber of Commerce, Fort Morgan Area Chamber of Commerce, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office and the city of Fort Morgan attended the event Monday at Café Lotus.
The small group met with State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and State Rep. Jon Becker to discuss bills and matters at the state legislative session.
The Legislative Coffee event on Monday followed a less formal format than usual, Becker said.
“Sometimes it’s more formal where people stand up and present, but it’s still early in the session,” Becker said.
The group discussed matters regarding tax on medical marijuana, faster internet services in the eastern plains and Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Continue reading